How Long Can You Leave a Pool Empty?

Your pool water looks a little dirty as leaves and bugs float by on the surface. After the long winter, you feel tempted just to drain all of the water out and start fresh with clean water for the summer season. You ponder how long it will take to empty the pool, but go no further!

You can leave a pool empty for 15 minutes at a push, but you should not leave a pool empty unless absolutely necessary due to the risk of structural damage. Pools are designed with the weight of the water to keep it intact. If you do need to drain a pool, you need to move quickly.

Liner Replacement

Read on for more information about why a pool should not be empty, repairs and maintenance, and equipment to use. Knowing this information will help you to avoid costly and possibly irreversible damage.

Why a Pool Should Not Be Empty

Swimming pools may need to be emptied for various reasons. This could be due to unsanitary water, the need to wash interior walls, perform repairs, or a combination of all of these. However, you cannot leave your pool empty for very long or at all when maintaining your pool.

Above-ground pools, in particular, should not be completely empty. Let’s explore this in more detail.

Empty Pool Issues 

Pools are meant to hold water and thus are designed with this in mind. Water will hold the shape of your above-ground pool as well as weigh them down. 

oval pool liner replacement

The weight of one gallon of water is 8.34 pounds (3.78 kg). So, if your pool holds 2,500 gallons (11365.23 L), then the weight of the water is 20,850 pounds (9457.40 kg). Even kiddie pools filled with water can be heavy when filled with many gallons of water.  

This water weight does not include the weight of the materials of the pool. These may consist of the pool walls, ladder, pump, and so on to construct your above-ground pool either.

Your pool is designed to support the weight of the water, and if you empty the pool, that can affect the integrity of your pool’s structure, resulting in damage. 

The pool liner can shrink and tear. If you attach a deck to your pool, the change in the force (or the lack of it) by removing water could also damage that. You may get cracks, leaks, damage to the walls and foundation, or damages to any heating or pump accessories. 

Damage could also occur to the area surrounding your pool, such as leveled ground or nearby landscaping. Erosion and unbalanced pressure affect the overall pressure on the pool structure. A water leak could send a flood towards your house, causing more damage.

Float is another type of damage that can occur when water fills in the space between the pool and the ground underneath it. 

Emptying water out of your pool also exposes the interior walls and floors to direct exposure to the sun and its ultraviolet rays. This can damage your pool by breaking these materials, making your pool unstable and prone to cracking or disintegration. 

On the other hand, exposure to cold weather can constrict the liner in an empty pool, resulting in damage.

Most Pool Repairs Do Not Require the Pool To Be Empty

Optimum Pools

Draining your pool is a time-consuming process that can also be expensive. The costs will increase if damage occurs while draining or emptying your pool. Drains should only be done if there is no other option in cases such as the need for major repairs or replacing a liner.

Thankfully, many pool issues can be fixed with water remaining in it.

How Not to Drain a Pool!

Draining the Pool

It is very risky to drain an above-ground pool considering the ensuing damage that is likely to result. 

Perhaps it is time to change the pool’s liner due to a puncture or leak, or you did not properly close your pool up for the winter or maintain the chemical balance, and the water is unsanitary, or you are throwing the pool away. 

Issues that result in a drained pool generally take one to two days to fix, which is too long and can be detrimental to an above-ground pool.

If you are throwing the pool away, you don’t need to worry about damage. However, if you need to do a major repair or replace the water, you can consider doing the following understanding that damage may happen.

  • Choose a day that is not very sunny or windy since both elements can cause further damage. Water removal and refilling should both take place on the same day, so start early and move quickly.
  • When draining, you want to move as quickly as possible. You need to be fast in order to reduce the possibility of severe damage to the pool’s construction.
  • A drainage pump with a hose attachment is generally used to pull water out of above-ground pools. This hose should lead the water to a storm drain or on a downhill slope away from your pool to avoid building up groundwater beneath the pool that could damage the foundation. 
  • Check the product’s information label to tell you how many gallons can be removed per hour. This will help you time out when to drain it and refill it.

You may want to consider consulting with a pool expert before tackling this job on your own since they may be able to repair the pool with the water still in it. 

Seasonal Care

Generally, summer care for your pool is easy to maintain as you use it. When winter and cold weather come, the temperature changes and brings debris from the Autumn season, and then Winter ice and snow, depending on where you live. You may feel tempted to drain the pool, but you should not.

Above-ground pools are typically set up and filled immediately with water. As it is filled with water, it takes on a firm shape supported with metal poles. If you empty an above-ground pool, you will need to take the entire unit apart to store it away in a climate-controlled space. Before storing it, you will also need to ensure it is dry to prevent the buildup of mildew or mold.

It may be best to keep the water inside your pool and cover it. You may need to remove water from the cover due to snowmelt-off or rain, so make sure you unplug any electrical equipment used with your pool.

Consider checking out this video on YouTube that provides winterizing pool tips. And, of course, you can always ask your local pool supply store or professionals:

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

If you regularly maintain your pool, it is unlikely you will not need to drain it or do major repairs. Cleaning your pool regularly will keep it clean so that you can use it consistently.

The Importance of Cleaning

According to the pool chemical’s instructions, if you maintain the proper chemical balance in your water, you’ve got a good start. You may be inclined to think that chlorine and other chemicals are keeping your pool sufficiently clean. Unfortunately, that is not entirely true.

The chemicals you add to the pool are designed to clean the water, and as a result, the chemicals will come in contact with the walls and floor of your pool for some cleaning power, but they do not naturally “scrub” these surfaces. 

Additionally, these chemicals do not tackle leaves, bugs, and more than land in the water. These chemicals also do not remove the lotion, hair products, dirt, and natural body oils from the people enjoying the pool.  Pool Care Handbook

Over time, these “additives” from nature and people will build upon the walls. Eventually, the chemicals in your pool water cannot keep up, and you’ll be swimming in dirty water.  

Equipment To Clean the Pool

It is a good idea to have pool cleaning equipment already on hand so that you use them regularly instead of waiting until there is a more extensive and time-consuming cleaning issue.

The following recommendations for cleaning tools come from, along with suggestions on how often you should clean various parts of the pool.

Vikii Swimming Pool Pole Telescopic

Telescopic poles are great and versatile so that you can attach different things to the end, such as skimmer nets, brushes, and more. This expands from 6 to 16 feet (1.82-4.87 m) to adjust for your cleaning needs. This pole is made from aluminum and is corrosion resistant.

Sunnyglade Skimmer Net

This sturdy plastic tool attaches to your telescopic pole and is likely to be used often to scoop up and catch leaves, bugs, and other floating debris. Flat skimmers such as this product allow you to shake debris out and away from the pool. 

Please note bag skimmers will hold more but need a little more help from you to empty it. I recommend you get a sturdy skimmer net to last you all season long or longer since you will likely use it a lot. I also suggest that you skim daily to keep debris out of your pool.

LALAPOOL Heavy Duty Cleaning Brush  

You can attach this nylon-bristled brush to your telescopic pole and scrub the walls and floor of your pool to eliminate dirt and algae buildup. 

Please note your pool brush should be designed for use on the type of pool walls that you have. For example, unpainted concrete can be cleaned with a stainless steel or nylon brush, gunite can be cleaned with stainless steel, and fiberglass, vinyl, or painted concrete can be cleaned with only nylon bristles. 

I recommend you get a sturdy brush that will last all season long and hold up well with exposure to the pool’s chemicals. 

It would be best if you plan on scrubbing the walls, ladders, and all of the nooks and crannies at least two times a week to keep algae away. The process of brushing pushes the algae into the water, where chlorine and other pool chemicals will effectively kill it. 

Please note if you don’t clean twice a week, brushing will not eliminate algae, and you will need to take more significant steps to remedy it.

Urchindj Pool Vacuum Head 

This triangular-shaped vacuum helps you get into corners of both inground and above-ground pools. This vacuum attaches to a telescopic pole. 

You may want to add some compatible accessories paired with this item, such as the Poolmaster 33430 Heavy Duty Pool Vacuum Hose for connecting the vacuum to the Hayward Vac Pool Skimmer for all over simultaneous cleaning. Generally, it is a good idea to vacuum your pool every other day. 

You could also consider a robotic pool cleaner instead, saving you time and energy and might be well worth the investment. Consider the DOLPHIN Nautilus Automatic Robotic Pool Cleaner. This version will drive around your pool (up to 33-feet or 10.05 m) and suck up debris for you. 

Finding a vacuum with a good warranty is a good idea. When shopping for a vacuum, look for ones that are gentle enough to ensure no damage is done to the walls of your pool.

Other Areas To Clean

In addition to removing debris and algae, there are a few other places to clean to promote pool longevity.

  • Pool Deck: Spray your pool deck, or sweep it, pushing debris away from the pool. When people leave the pool, they drip water with chemicals onto the deck’s surface.
    • As a result, the chemicals dissipate, leaving an opportunity for bacteria and algae to settle in. 
    • You may also need to sanitize your pool deck. To resolve this, you can use Scotts Outdoor Cleaner from to hook up to your hose and spray. You can spray and scrub with a surface-friendly brush or pressure washer for deeper cleaning. 
    • It would be best to clean your pool deck once a week when used heavily and then clean your deck when you start your swim season.
  • Pool Filter: If the filter is dirty, then the pool water will be, too. It is essential to know what kind of filter you have and follow the instructions for keeping it clean regularly.

Keeping a pool clean and maintained regularly will save you money in the long run so that you don’t end up needing professional cleanings or costly repairs. 

You may want to set aside a specific day each week to combine the weekly cleaning tasks into one day. As a result, you will not need to empty your pool, risking further damage.

Check out Pool Maintenance Made Easy (Second Edition) on by John Brace. This book provides a step-by-step guide for maintaining your pool, as well as helpful information for seasonal tasks to help keep your pool in great shape.


In nearly all cases, you should never leave a pool empty. Many repairs can be done with water still in the pool. It is important to seasonally and daily maintain your pool through winterization, cleaning, and balancing chemicals. By doing this, you will likely avoid significant damage and costly repairs.


Recent Posts